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I did not make the connection when my own son failed freshman English at the local junior college in our East Texas city.I was pleased that he registered to repeat the course with the same teacher.
Austin State University express concern that, since students have been "drilled" on the five-paragraph theme for the state test of academic skills, they were locked into only one way of writing an essay.
I now remembered how, when students arrived in my seventh grade classroom, they had already had it ingrained in them that for the state test they were to write five paragraphs: an introduction, three body paragraphs, and a conclusion.
As a middle school language arts teacher for ten years in Texas, I came to believe in practice that this was the writing standard in Texas as we were given models of rubric scoring to evaluate our students' essays.
These rubrics resulted in teachers preparing students to write five-paragraph themes.
Prepositions took on new currency when the picture prompt was introduced.
Students were presented a picture and asked to describe the scene.
In Texas, teachers proudly boasted a high success rate when nearly every student could write a five-paragraph theme to any descriptive, how-to, compare and contrast, or persuasive prompt.
Sometimes, we could even figure out the pattern and guess which mode would be tested in a given year.
While I required my seventh-, and later, eighth-graders to complete four research projects during the school year, most of the year was spent writing five-paragraph themes.
This had become the norm for preparing students for success on the TAAS, the test that supposedly promoted higher-order thinking and held teachers accountable for student learning.